Since the end of the Bush administration, we have seen poverty rates in America continue to rise. Last year, almost 1 in 6 people were living in poverty as long-term unemployment left millions of Americans out of work. New data released by the U.S. Department of Census doesn’t show any improvement on the horizon.
The findings are from the American Community Survey (ACS), a five-year data allow for the analysis of poverty rates by race and Hispanic origin. The U.S. poverty rate from 2007-2010 has now risen faster than any three-year period since the early 1980s, with 42.7 million people or 14.3 percent of the U.S. population having incomes below the poverty level according to the 2007–2011 ACS. The federal threshold for poverty is about $11,500 in annual income for an individual and about $23,000 for a family of four. Poverty rates are important indicators of community well-being.
By race, the highest national poverty rates were for American Indians and Alaska Natives (27 percent) and blacks or African Americans (25.8 percent). In general, poverty rates for black or African American were more than 10 percentage points higher than the U.S. rate for the total population. Between 2007 to 2011 period for the black population, 43 states and the District of Columbia had poverty rates of 20 percent or higher. Iowa, Maine, Mississippi, and Wisconsin had rates above 35 percent. Six states had poverty rates for blacks that were about 20 percent or less (Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, New Jersey and Virginia).